Howard Tsunamura, The Province, Sat Nov 16, 2012
W.J. MOUAT 55 VS. WEST VANCOUVER 22
VANCOUVER – Here’s how you can tell W.J. Mouat running back Maleek Irons is a well-grounded young man.
In the moments following the No. 1-ranked Hawks’ 55-20 win over the West Vancouver Highlanders Friday evening here at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium, Mouat head coach Denis Kelly let his team know that a hard battle lay ahead next week against Victoria’s Mt. Douglas Rams, who earlier in the day had advanced to the semifinals with a win over Terry Fox.
So when Irons was asked about facing the Rams next week, and how big the game was to him, he responded: “It’s big because we lost to them. It was upsetting, so we wanted to see them again. We just want to play hard.”
Of course, it’s interesting to note that Irons was referencing the Hawks loss to the Rams in last season’s Subway Bowl final.
His team’s Oct. 13 regular season victory over the Rams, which vaulted the Hawks to No. 1 in the rankings, wasn’t even on his mind, even though that day, all Irons did was rush for a new B.C. single game record 491 yards, and score five touchdowns.
Truly, the losses resonate more with him than the numbers. And few will doubt that the Grade 11 will become the most productive prep runner to ever play the game in B.C. before he graduates to the next level in 2014.
On Friday, there was nothing but more proof.
Irons sat out much of the second half, but not before he (unofficially) carried 26 times for 290 yards and six touchdowns, and added a seventh major when he fell on a stripped ball in the West Vancouver end zone.
Irons, in fact, scored Mouat’s first seven touchdowns, counting majors on runs of 37, 15, seven, five, five and finally 50 yards.
He is quick to credit his blocking.
“It’s the team, it’s not just me,” he said after the game. “Everyone does their best but I get recognized for it.”
And it’s true. The Mouat offensive line is a technical terror, helping open the lanes that Irons flows into so well. But there is also a lot of other stuff that can’t be explained. He moves through traffic with such grace, you begin to expect that he will score every time he touches the ball.
And based on his build, you don’t expect him to carry the pile, or get those last three-to-four tough yards that he almost always seems to find a way to get.
It was another amazing night, and it came against a West Vancouver team which was able to play them very tough the first time the two teams had met this season.
The Highlanders, in fact, have been so solid this season, that Kelly admitted that one of the biggest parts of the team’s game plan heading into its bye week, was to go back to fundamentals and positioning, so as to cut off the running lanes in which West Vancouver quarterback Johnny Franklin is so dangerous.
Yet Franklin still wound up rushing for a pair of scores, and hitting receiver Blake Whiteley with another to account for the Highlanders scoring.
“We knew that we had that kind of a training camp week, instead of a game,” said Kelly, whose team got two weeks of solid practice in prior to Friday’s game. “To play 10 consecutive weeks against physical teams, it takes it toll. So the week off was spent with not much contact, but a lot of fundamentals and positioning.
“So for us today, it was to be in the proper position against the quarterback and not give him a lot of running lanes. So we shut him down, by and large, and when they went to the sprint-out game, we adapted to that.”